Project Description

Date: November 30th, 2016

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About Alex Stiger

Alex Stiger is a good friend of mine and one of the most interesting people I know. She’s been a mentor to me in climbing, riding horses (she was my trainer for a while), and chess (she taught me how to do tournaments). She’s not only a V9 and 5.13 climber – she’s also the highest rated female chess player in Colorado, a badass breakdancer, and a bona fide horse whisperer.

She’s a 27-year-old, 5’0″ woman who discovered climbing 12 years ago. She’s gone through her ups and downs with climbing, but has recently enjoyed consistent progress through training and nutrition.

Alex Stiger Interview Details

During her time as the head coach of the kids’ climbing team at the Spot Gym in Boulder, Colorado, she’s seen a lot of improvements in her own climbing. I wanted to ask her about how she coaches her kids, and how she’s gotten so strong in the past couple years.

What We Talked About

  • How she trains her kids team
  • How horsemanship and chess relate with coaching and climbing
  • What makes a good kids’ coach
  • Should kids campus?
  • How her climbing performance shot up
  • Sending her first 5.13s
  • How she lost weight and if it affected her climbing

Alex Stiger Links

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Transcript

Neely Quinn: Welcome to the Training Beta Podcast, where I talk with climbers and trainers about how we can all get a little better at our favorite sport. I’m your host, Neely Quinn, and I’m back from vacation. Last week I was gone and we were climbing in Las Vegas in Red Rocks. It was awesome! We had Thanksgiving with some good friends, we had perfect weather, it was sunny and cool, and we sport climbed. We went to the Front Corridor, and the Trophy, and I did some awesome climbs. I did Sound of Power, and Pet Shop Boys, and a bunch of beautiful 11s. It was just awesome, I love sandstone so much. I felt strong, and brave for some reason. I don’t really know why, but something is going on mentally with me where I feel like I can relax more on the rock, which has always been an issue with me where I get scared above my bolts. It feels good to just climb and enjoy it for what it is. I’m here now though, for the the winter. I’m psyched to train in the gym mostly, and hopefully get outside a little, and maybe go back to Vegas in the Spring.

Anyways, today I have my really good friend Alex Stiger on the show. I asked Alex to be on the show, because she’s not a super crusher. I mean in my mind she’s a super crusher, but she’s not climbing v14 or v15 or 16, and she’s not climbing 9a or anything like that. But she’s had a lot of success with training. She went from being a v3, v4, v5 climbing, to climbing on v9s. She is also a coach, and she is the head coach for the kid’s team over at The Spot, the bouldering gym in Boulder. I wanted to talk to her about both of those things- how her training has accelerated her own climbing, and how actually being a coach has helped her own climbing and the climbing of her kids.

She’s one of the most interesting people I know. She’s really good at chess- well, you’ll hear all about it. Hopefully you like this interview- I’ll keep having people on that are more like you and me, who aren’t super crushers. I find that to be really interesting.

Before I get into the interview, I want to let you know that Friction Labs is my favorite chalk company, and they’re giving you guys- my loyal listeners- some really great discounts. If you go over to frictionlabs.com/trainingbeta, you’ll see all the goodies over there. Definitely check that out.

Okay so here’s Alex Stiger, I hope you enjoy this.

Welcome to the show Alex, thanks for being here.

Alex Stiger: Hi Neely, thanks for having me.

Neely Quinn: So for anyone who doesn’t know who you are, can you tell us who Alex Stiger is?

Alex Stiger: My name is Alex, and I live in Boulder Colorado. I’m currently the head coach at The Spot climbing gym, and I’ve been a climber for around twelve years now.

Neely Quinn: Twelve years- and how old are you?

Alex Stiger: I’m 27.

Neely Quinn: And where are you from?

Alex Stiger: I’m from the middle of nowhere Texas, and I was born in Colorado Springs, which is how I ended up originally moving to Colorado- for CU.

Neely Quinn: How did you get involved in climbing?

Alex Stiger: I was on a chess cruise to Alaska [laughs]. Pretty geeky- it was actually called Geek Cruises. One of the outdoor excursions was a climbing wall, and I fell in love with it. The next day in my chess seminar I was super sore, and I was like “This is the best thing ever! Climbing climbing climbing!”. So I got back to Texas, looked up a climbing gym, and there happened to be one around 25-30 minutes from my house. It had this chopped up rubber flooring- interesting.

Neely Quinn: Old school.

Alex Stiger: But I loved it, and I went there and essentially never l left. Soon I had a job there, I was 16- so I’ve been climbing eleven years.

Neely Quinn: So one of the things I love about you the most is that you have varied hobbies, and more so than any climber I know. One of them is chess, and you’re actually really good at chess. I know that you wouldn’t say that you’re really good at chess.

Alex Stiger: I have ups and downs.

Neely Quinn: But you spend a lot of time doing it, and I think that that’s what sets you apart in a lot of things, that you dedicated yourself to things. Do you want to talk a little bit about chess in that way?

Alex Stiger: Sure. I started out, I guess, being obsessive about things and hobbies when I was 5, when I found horsemanship. That’s all I did. Lived, breathed, everything. I was homeschooled for horses. When I started to get burned out, thankfully I found chess. I was homeschooled in the middle of nowhere, and all of a sudden I could go to the high school chess club, and I thought it was the coolest thing ever. It was like “Yeah, mom, I get to go walk around the high school and it’s awesome!” and she was like “Yeah honey, it’s not really cool but I’m really excited for you”, and I loved it. It was a way of socializing and meeting new people and traveling for tournaments was a really good experience for me going through that time. It made the transition leaving horses a little bit easier, because it was similar. Before I would travel with horses, and now all of a sudden I didn’t have to take a trailer, I could just get on an airplane and go to a tournament in a nice hotel and hang out with my mom and play chess.

Neely Quinn: And you’ve been pretty disciplined with it?

Alex Stiger: On and off. So when I’m studying chess, I’m really disciplined. Probably 2-6 hours a day. When I’m not, I don’t even look at it.

Neely Quinn: Are you not right now at all?

Alex Stiger: The World Championship is going on right now so that’s getting me more psyched, but I don’t want to sacrifice weekend climbing time yet for tournaments. I spent an hour this morning studying chess, so it’s getting there.

Neely Quinn: When you and I went to a chess tournament together- my one and only chess tournament-

Alex Stiger: It was awesome!

Neely Quinn: Yeah it was awesome. But somebody said that you were the highest ranking woman in Colorado. Is that true?

Alex Stiger: Well, I played such bad chess the last several tournaments, I haven’t even wanted to look at my rating, so I’m not quite sure. But I was probably the highest for at least a year, and if I’m not I’m probably close to it. I’m not really keeping current with what’s happening.

Neely Quinn: Then with your horsemanship- Alex and I also have a relationship with horsemanship because I leased a horse- well if you could call it a horse, it was more like a pony. And you would come and help me with the horse.

Alex Stiger: It was so much fun.

Neely Quinn: You’re basically like a horse whisperer!

Alex Stiger: So when I did horsemanship, it was natural horsemanship, which is all about psychology and behavioral psychology and doing things in an alternative way. Instead of traditional horsemanship, it really goes into “How can I learn how the horse thinks so I can create a language and start from the ground before I start riding”, is what I ended up doing. “Horse whisperer” is a term associated with natural horsemanship-

Neely Quinn: It’s kind of a cheesy term, probably.

Alex Stiger: Well, I mean, you’re trying to communicate using their psychology.

Neely Quinn: Yeah, it was super cool for me to see you interact with the horse, because there was no pressuring him to do anything ever, there was no force involved ever. It was just this symbiotic relationship, which I thought was really beautiful. I was super impressed by your capabilities.

Alex Stiger: Thank you. I’m gonna blush. I owe horsemanship to my career now, because from the time I was 9 I was in these sitting, listening to learning behavioralist psychologist doctorate people in classrooms about learning psychology and really how to understand how we learn, and how to teach, and how to be a leader. That I think has translated the most into my current career as a coach. It’s been really helpful, I’m glad it was part of my past.

Neely Quinn: And you learned not only a lot about how creatures learn, but reading people and creatures.

Alex Stiger: Yeah, I think a big part of the premise is that you have to understand how you think in order to make a connection with how it’s different for different animals. There’s a lot of emphasis on what’s going on in your own brain, which has been very helpful. But not always- sometimes I’m too much in my own head.

Neely Quinn: Probably as a climber too.

Alex Stiger: Definitely. Definitely as a climber, as a chess player. I think all of my lessons through the hobbies have just been how transferrable- all the different stuff you learn in life. Like, you play soccer as a kid, you’re going to learn stuff from that. If you think about it, right, be able to use it later on for whatever you use to do, for various hobbies. I think the more dedicated you are to that, the easier it is to move stuff around.

Neely Quinn: So tell me about how you became the coach at The Spot.

Alex Stiger: When I moved to Boulder, I was 20. I got a front desk position at The Spot. I was also working at another retail place here when I moved, but it was my first job and they became my family, and that facility became this sense of home for my first time moving away from home. That really became that sense of security for me. When I left The Spot, it was on really good terms, I just needed to live somewhere that I found less perfect than Boulder, because I realized I started to lack appreciation moving from podunk Texas to this amazing place- I needed to live in some other places.

So I moved away for several years, and during that time, I really dove into my own training, and did a lot of research in various stuff. I moved back to Boulder, like two and a half years ago, walked into The Spot, and was like “Hey, I’m back, I’m looking for a job. Is there anything available?”. One of my oldest friends from The Spot was there and was like “The head coach position”, and I was like “I want it!”. He was like “Okay, let’s set up an interview”. It was awesome. So we had an interview, and he was really able to see that I was now qualified for this position. My big thing throughout that process was that I wanted a position to grow into, and that psyche and motivation and dedication to The Spot as a whole is how I got that position. I really have felt that I’ve learned so much. I started out super unsure- like do I even like kids? I didn’t even know if I liked kids [laughs]. And honestly the answer to that- I like my kids. I love the team kids. If I work a birthday party or something I want to go crazy, but those kids who you get to experience three hours, three days a week with over years, it’s really special.

Neely Quinn: So what do you think does qualify somebody to be a coach for a kids team?

Alex Stiger: That’s a great question. I think I’ve now hired and unfortunately had to let several people go at this point, because of that question- really trying to figure out what is the perfect coach. So much of it is mentality and interaction, and their ability to translate their experiences and their knowledge into a form that the kids want to hear, and want to be around, and want to experience. Where not the strongest climber is necessarily the best kid’s coach, it’s that person that can really connect with them on a personal level, and offer what they need at the right time, I would say. And that’s hard to find, and it’s a very open ended answer.

Neely Quinn: Do you feel like you’ve had the most success with people who have worked with kids before, or vice versa?

Alex Stiger: I’m a prime case of not really having worked with kids before. I had coached horsemanship quite a bit with different kids, and worked at some facilities for disabled people getting into horsemanship. I always loved that interaction, but that was pretty much it. I was not a climbing coach prior, or had any extensive child teaching experience. I don’t think you have to be. I think people can really discover that at different times in their lives, especially as they mature. It is helpful- it’s definitely something I look for in coaches, that past experiences. But it’s not, I don’t think, necessary.

Neely Quinn: It seems like sometimes when people work with kids- I feel like you can baby them, and that’s not necessarily what they need as climbers.

Alex Stiger: Yeah, and I think the people who actually come into being a coach as a climber- and as a person without a ton of formal childcare education- baby less. I’ve always treated the kids like human beings. I treat them and I talk to them and I communicate with them as if I was talking to you about a situation.  think there’d a lot of mutual respect with that. I don’t have any sort of degree or formal education in childcare, child education, but I can see that a lot in different school systems, where there is a level of babying, or not talking to them as if they’re a intelligent thinking, capable individual.

Neely Quinn: You feel like they respond to that much better?

Alex Stiger: I’ve had great success with it. That’s where me and my coaching team, as a whole, really try to approach all the children and kids on our team with that mentality of “they are a person”. They may be a young person, they may be seven, they may be eighteen- but just treating them as a human being, how we would want to be talked to.

Neely Quinn: And you’ve had some success with these kids.

Alex Stiger: Quite a lot, and I can’t take full credit for that, because a lot of them have been climbing for a long time at The Spot with a lot of different coaches. It’s really cool seeing them surpass me and other coaches, and just really find themselves and who they are as an athlete, and understand how to be an athlete- it’s really inspiring. I’m inspired by the the kids every day. It’s helped me a lot as well as seeing their success gave me a meaning in my climbing, and gave me a purpose. Before I was always like “I can’t climb this v6 that everybody else did” if I was to go bouldering, and that was with everything, and I would be devastated. I’m very type A and competitive- yeah, I’m very competitive. And having kid’s success all of a sudden become just as important as my own really gave met that outlet in climbing, and that sense of purpose in climbing that I struggled with before.

Neely Quinn: So you could feel happier for them than you could before for people.

Alex Stiger: Yeah, and I feel that happiness. They succeed, I feel happy because I was a part of their success. And not just succeed as in, we have kids who are climbing v9 and stuff, but as seeing them learn how to problem solve, and how to persevere and really work hard at something. How to excel in school so that their parents let them come climbing- these life lessons that they’re learning through climbing is really inspiring and is giving me that purpose.

I quit climbing for about a year and a half, and really the reason was that I struggled with that I was spending so much of my time and energy and everything I was thinking about was revolving around the sport. And sometimes you just fail and go home, and you’re sad and it sucks. You’re like- this is my world- is it really worth it? So when I started coaching, I was able to answer those questions, and it is worth it for me, as log as coaching is a part of it.

Neely Quinn: So if you weren’t to be a coach, you wouldn’t necessarily want to be climbing very much?

Alex Stiger: It’s a hard one to answer, because I did start back climbing, and I wasn’t coaching, and I was quite happy. I was living in Phoenix, working as a loan processor- I wanted to try out a real job and see what it’s like to have a salary and stuff. I was miserable professionally and where I was living, but I was finding a lot of happiness in climbing again. It was great to start from square one. Walk into a place- and especially in a new gym- so nobody had been around me, nobody had climbed with me. I could just for on my v2s and v3s and be super tired after an hour and leave, and be that beginner climber again nd go through that whole process was really gratifying. It kind of refreshed me- pressed the refresh button. Then when I moved to Boulder I was still pretty psyched on climbing, but coaching has kept me more involved and more consistent than I ever was before.

Neely Quinn: And your climbing has really improved since you’ve become a coach.

Alex Stiger: 100% related to coaching.

Neely Quinn: Yeah- how’s that?

Alex Stiger: I think I mentioned it before- I’m either on, or I’m off. I either really care about something and it’s everything, or it’s nothing at all. In climbing, that would mean that I’m super psyched, and I’d be too psyched and do way too much. Like, way too much, and get injured or burned out or something, and then I would have this huge gap  of getting psyched on breakdancing, or chess, or some other weird little hobby I decided was really cool. And I would stop, and my training and profession that I had made, I might as well throw it away. Coaching, that’s my job. So five days a week I’m around these kids and I’m seeing their progress. Honestly, I get the best results if I’m doing it with them- at least a part of it. They’ll never do a new exercise if I haven’t done it first. If we do abs, I’ll do abs with them. If we’re hangboarding, I’ll hangboard with them. If we’re doing a treadwall session- especially treadwall. That’s one of the things you’re asking somebody to really gruel through- some hard mental- it’s not comfortable. I always make sure to do that stuff with them.

Neely Quinn: You’re in the rotation with them?

Alex Stiger: I’m in their program. Yeah. And that has kept me consistent over the last two and a half years, where I would be consistent for two weeks before, or be consistent for three- maybe a month- but then something would happen.

Neely Quinn: So what about injuries?

Alex Stiger: Knock on wood- having been more consistent, and being older and wiser, I know what too much is a lot better now, and I haven’t had any serious injuries since I’ve started climbing again. I’ve always been fortunate with my fingers- I’ve never really experience any finger injuries. But I battled with bicep tendinitis for a long time, from- if you know climbing in Boulder, the Movement grey wall- I would go climb on that for three hours, five days a week before. Always at the same grade, like 5.11, 12a, when I lived here before. That created a bicep tendinitis problem that I struggled with for a long time.

Now all my other injuries haven’t been serious, so I struggled with my legs this summer, but it was a very educational experience for me, because I’ve always been a foot by my face, rock over it, pull, I love steep climbing because I’m short, so less reachy I think. I pulled a hammy heel hooking above my face, and that was a bummer, because I couldn’t heel hook with my left leg for a long time. But I started to learn that I didn’t need to. I still was able- the project I had in Rifle, Debaser- I was able to go back the next weekend and use a toe and still do the climb, I was psyched. And right after- two days after I did my first left heel hook- I hiked up to Upper, and I got on this roof climb I was psyched on, and did a hard toe in, and injured my shin somehow, in my right leg. And not just a little bit, but a lot a bit. A lot of injured. It’s weird, I talked to a lot of different professionals, and couldn’t figure out exactly what happened, but I pulled something in my calf. The result was I couldn’t heel hook, I couldn’t toe in hard.

Neely Quinn: So then you just had to campus [laughs].

Alex Stiger: I couldn’t do my high step pull in with my toe anymore, I was devastated. It was the best thing ever for my climbing, because I learned that I could climb with lower feet, and how to push, and it got me on more vertical stuff than I’ve ever climbed on, because that didn’t hurt at all. So between those two legs over the summer, the last couple months I’ve been able to heel hook again, and my climbing skyrocketed even since. I think my tension is better, I’m able to use so many different foot options than I ever could before. Really injuries are an opportunity to grow- some more than others- but the ones I had really helped me grow a lot.

Neely Quinn: So where did you say that you started in terms of your climbing grade, and where are you now? Like, before coaching and now?

Alex Stiger: Starting out, when I started climbing, I excelled rapidly. I was really fortunate, I think, because it really crafted my mentality. My first climbing partner was the fittest woman I’ve ever been around, still- and I’ve been around a lot of really fit people. She was dedicated to fitness, and for several months of climbing, we would have these crazy workouts, and hangboard workouts and all this stuff. We were so strong- we were terrible climbers- but we got really strong. Quickly I was climbing 11s, and v4, v5s. But it took me a long time after that, to progress past that point. So I excelled really fast to a certain level, and then plateaued at that for a years and years and years. The struggle was real during that time, mentally because I like to be progressing at all times. If I’m not, it’s really hard for me, especially moving to Boulder and climbing with all these idols and professional climbers. It can be hard on the mentality.

If I was making progress, I didn’t see it, and I held myself back a lot. As an example- I would go bouldering in Bishop for three weeks with three professional climbers. I would rather be struggling on the first move of a climb that was of a grade I thought was respectable- because all these other people I’m around are climbing that grade- than go and find v3s and v4s, and maybe even v1s and v2s, that I could do. So because of my competitive mentality, I wasn’t consistently- I wasn’t climbing enough. I wasn’t systematically developing myself, I was just trying to be the person I admired so much. Not a singular person, but as a whole.

Once I started coaching, all of a sudden I was like- I have to get these kids stronger, I have to help them become better climbers, technically proficient, and I have to help their mentality. One of the biggest things is that I have to make sure they don’t get injured. Answering all of these questions for them really helped me realize what I wasn’t doing in my climbing. Kids- it’s really cool, because if they climb consistently, they will get better. That’s something that I notice from the teams that are two days a week, versus the three day a week teams. The rate of progression regardless of where they started, is significantly higher on the three day a week team. Just that extra day of climbing. Then I started looking at which kids are coming in a day on the weekend. Those kids- the rate of progression- way higher. It’s like, ah, consistency. There’s something about it, it’s cool, I’m gonna do that. I would tell the kids- because we would do these exercises. We would do, let’s say, a “spot race”. So we do as many spots as we can in thirty minutes.

Neely Quinn: And a spot- can you explain what a spot is?

Alex Stiger: So The Spot gym has it’s own rating system, and one spot is the easiest, five plus is the hardest. I’ll let you come climb at the facility to get a further explanation on that. Essentially it does relate to the V scale, and when you do the spot race there is a scale. A four plus is worth more points than a three spot. It kind of factors in difficulty. The point is if I was in a regular gym with a V scale, it would be how many V points you can do in thirty minutes, is what we do, and we call it a spot race. I would have so many kids who- they weren’t continuously climbing. They would stop, and they would be projecting instead, and I was like- how do I explain to them that the point of this is not projecting, it’s to climb a lot. The more we climb, the more moves- I think it takes doing a single move many times, depending on the amount of mental effort you put into understanding that move, it might take even longer or less time. But let’s say you do one kind of heel hook, seven times, before you can do it without having to think about doing it. So for these kids, it’s very obvious the more moves they do, the faster they’re going to excel, and the faster everything is going to develop for them.

Having to explain to them what I was seeing was like “Hey, why are you projecting right now, you need to do this”. I found the best way was to explain why. The more moves

you do, the better climber you’re going to be, the stronger climber you’re going to be. The people you admire, they’ve climbed a lot. I realized I wasn’t doing that, so I started doing that in my own training too. If I went outside, I started instead of going straight to my project in the Park, my only goal was to get thirty points, and I could repeat those points, because it’s the Park and it’s hard to find new stuff you can do. I got a lot of comments about it, like “Oh, you only climb on Potato Chip, oh you only climb on Tommy’s Arete”. I was known for that- I was known for just going to a climb and repeating it as many times as I could while I was there. But what I was doing was trying to rack up those points, because I was so sick of going to one boulder and falling on two moves and not climbing. That, I knew didn’t work in my past. So full circle- I guess I started out there, and now I’m consistently climbing v8, occasional 9, possible 10s here and there, and 5.13 for sport.

Neely Quinn: Yeah, you did your first 5.13 this year.

Alex Stiger: Yeah, and then followed it up with another one, and lots and lots of 12s. Going to Rifle, I would try to pick a 12 to do every weekend, just to keep that mentality of “don’t get stuck not climbing”. Projecting is not climbing, you’re trying the same moves. You’re not growing as a climber in a lot of projecting- some projecting is different, but I think there has to be a balance. And there has to be a balance with the kids, and it’s so easy to see, and it’s so hard to do as an adult in our own climbing. That’s I think what’s helped me improve over the last few years.

Neely Quinn: Do you feel like you can do more volume than you could have before?

Alex Stiger: Way more volume- but I’m so much smarter about it. When I lived here before, I was inspired by all the athletes around me. I wanted to be able to go run fifteen miles at an eight minute mile pace. I wanted to go spend three hours at the climbing gym, two times a day, five days a week. I wanted to do this massive volume that I was seeing these professionals do around me, and I didn’t understand that they got there through a lot of high volume progression. I think volume, it’s like anything. I think it’s easier to translate it, it’s easier to see it in a power setting. You’re not going to do a super hard campus workout when you first start campusing. You’re not going to go do four hours of climbing and lots and lots of moves, while you’re there, if you haven’t been slowly progressing. When I would go outside, I think even more valuable than climbing volume in the gym was climbing volume outside. But it took me a long time to be able to do Tommy’s four times in a row, or Potato Chip six times. It took a lot to build up to being able to even do that volume. There’s a lot of progress in that.

Neely Quinn: But it helps you probably a lot, because when you do have a project you can put so many more burns on it.

Alex Stiger: Yeah- and I don’t have as much in my volume tank as a lot of the climbers I’m around on a regular basis, and I think I’m just gonna toss it out there- if you’re climbing with guys a lot, I think gender plays a roll, I think your climbing style plays a roll, and your prior training and years climbing plays a roll in how many burns you’re able to give something. You climb a lot with Jonathan Siegrist- he’s probably the person I’ve seen climb the most volume, and hard volume. Like, give honest, good tries on his project over and over and over. I have two, if I’m lucky, you know? And if I do a climb, I’m probably going to do it fast. I’m going to warm up, and get on my project, and do it. It’s been rare for me that I do it tenth try or something.

Neely Quinn: You mean tenth try-

Alex Stiger: Of the day. On boulders, sport climbs, whatever. I’m at my best in my first twenty five percent of my session.

Neely Quinn: I want to go back to the gender thing- what are you saying?

Alex Stiger: I think guys and girls and kids, we all need to be training a bit differently. It’s hard when you’re only climbing with somebody who has different capacities. You want to be at that capacity too. I’ve had to learn that, oh maybe instead of just climbing one on, one off, one on, one off, if I’m climbing with my boyfriend, let him climb twice, and I’m going to climb once. Or if I’m going climbing with a dude friend- I’m just gonna use that term- I have to climb less. I can’t keep up a lot of the time, and when you go climbing with different people, we always try to keep up. As girls climbing with guys, as adults climbing with kids. Kids can climb way more than most adults can.

Neely Quinn: Really?

Alex Stiger: Oh for sure. Their recovery rate is so much faster. They recover in a day. It takes me two- like one day off, eventually I’m gonna need two days off. For the kids, it’s hard for me because I try not to let them climb more than five days a week, because for me that’s knocking on injury’s door. But honestly, there’s nothing to say that they can’t, as far as what I’ve seen in injuries.

Neely Quinn: Do you see them get injured?

Alex Stiger: Very very rarely. And if they do, they heal super fast. But we’re on it- I’m very big into injury prevention, and so as soon as something starts to hurt I try and-

Neely Quinn: Bench them?

Alex Stiger: Bench them [laughs]. That’s a nice way of saying it, but bench them. Or try and modify our training to accommodate whatever is hurting.

Neely Quinn: Yeah.

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I would love to get into a little bit of the nitty gritty of how you train them, and if there’s anything different that you do because they’re kids.

Alex Stiger: So the big one, and if I’m interviewing a new coach or somebody I hope you be a new coach, it’s like “Hey, you’re going to take the kids upstairs and do a forty minute workout with them. Half of it is going to be climbing specific, half of it is not going to be climbing specific, just general fitness. What are you going to do?”. The answer I’m really looking for in that is “I’m not going to have them do stuff that’s going to harm their growth plates”, because they’re growing. There’s certain things to avoid, like weights, and any sort of weighted hangs. Campusing only at high levels and very small calculated doses. All my kids, I don’t give them free passes to the hangboard, because I feel growth plates in fingers, they’re developing naturally just climbing, and stress fractures in fingers is kind of an exploding injury right now in youth climbing, as these climbers are starting to really progress, especially in their training.

Neely Quinn: Are you seeing it in any of your kids?

Alex Stiger: Thankfully not at this time. We’ve had some different scares that’s really forced the reevaluating of different stuff, and what we need to be doing, but thankfully not. As a whole, you go to Nationals and see a lot of seriously taped fingers. You talk to the kids, and they’re like “Oh it’s a stress fracture!” and you’re like-

Neely Quinn: “Uhh, why are you here?”

Alex Stiger: It’s something- I’ve been around climbers for a long time, and you don’t hear a lot of adults talking about stress fractures. That is a specifically youth climbing problem, and all coaches, all teams, need to be really mindful of.

Neely Quinn: What’s the cut off, do you think? What’s youth and what’s adult?

Alex Stiger: Hmm that’s a good one. I think it depends on the kid. If they’re done growing, then I would consider them more of an adult body, who is able to take a lot more. But that’s different for everybody. You just have to be really mindful, and it’s case by case.

Neely Quinn: Right, there’s not an age cut off, because there are people who grow at eighteen.

Alex Stiger: I mean, this is a huge question in horse stuff, because in race horses, they want those horses racing as soon as possible. The higher quality farms won’t start racing until a certain point, because their knees aren’t developed, their backs aren’t developed, and when you race these horses at a young age they just end up broken. It’s known, but they hope in their six races they’ll make enough money to cover themselves, or win enough that they can breed them. So they race them way too young, and my feeling is we need to be looking at that issue in all of our youth programs and youth sports. But it’s not an animal that’s for money, these are children, they’re people. So we have to be super mindful and educated about what’s going on in their bodies. I personally feel that campusing and hanging- it has to be done with very mindful supervision.

Neely Quinn: I saw Robin Erbesfield had her kids on a top rope when they were campusing. Is that something that you guys do to lesson the load, or something? What’s up with that?

Alex Stiger: I never have, and I think that is probably a very valid method- whatever she’s doing is working. We will, on a hangboard, take off weight. I think that’s good. I prefer not to have them campusing- doing advanced campus board workouts. For me, I look at their ability to hold static positions on their fingers as indicators of certain strengths. So the hangboard to me, always comes first before campus board. If you can’t maintain a certain strong half crimp, pistol grip finger position on the hangboard, doing whatever hangboard workout you’re doing on any hold, you don’t have business being on a campus board yet. If I’m with a kid, and they have perfect form, and their fingers aren’t fluctuating at all, it’s like, yeah you can do ladders, or bumps on a campus board, matches. The basic exercises are fine with me. Taking off weight, I think, is a great way of lessening the force, whether that’s necessary or not, I can’t really say.

Neely Quinn: Will you let them do really hard campus workouts?

Alex Stiger: No.

Neely Quinn: No never. You’re saying that’s the cutoff.

Alex Stiger: I look at a campus board as contact strength and power. There are other way to work on those things, I think, in a healthier way for children. Campus on boulder climbs, so you’re working on power, big dynamic moves. Different clapping pushups, and box jumps, and all these other various forms. There’s so many ways to work on explosive muscle recruitment, that a hard campus workout isn’t quite necessary for those kids, in my opinion.

Neely Quinn: Okay, so what does their workout look like, on a daily basis? I’m sure that changes, but do you have them on cyclical periodization? What are you doing with them, and how much do you have them throughout the year?

Alex Stiger: I’ve tried several different programs. I tried periodization, and I think it works really well for a certain kind of person in a certain kind of situation, but it doesn’t work out super well for kids, because it’s really hard to stay mentally engaged doing the same thing every time you go to the gym for a set period of time. I like to base our program around weakness and strength training. I have a great team of coaches and we are constantly talking and really evaluating as whole, and on an individual kid on the climbing team basis. What are their strengths, and what are their weaknesses. Just asking that question, we can target what they need to be doing.

So I’ll just give you a rundown of what our day looks like. We always start out upstairs, I like to do a body warm-up before climbing. It’s usually six to eight minutes, coaches choice. We’ll go ahead and do mountain climbers, jump squats, lunges, plank, plank walk-ups, touch and go push-ups, to warm up the entire body. Then they do a few pull-ups, a few push-ups, go downstairs. Six easy climbs, and those six easy climbs, we really dive into “This is time to stretch with your body and work on your technique, and it should be slow”. If kids get done too fast, we really monitor that, and be like, no, this should take this much time.

Neely Quinn: How much time do you tell them?

Alex Stiger: About ten to fifteen minutes.

Neely Quinn: And do you do it with them?

Alex Stiger: I have a lot. Depending on what I need to be doing at that time, depends on if I can do the whole thing, but I have done it. I do it most of the time when I warm up, as well. I do the same thing, because I think it works out really well.

Neely Quinn: To warm up your body like that?

Alex Stiger: Yeah- start with a body warm up. So many people just walk into the gym and start climbing, I do it all the time. I think it’s one of the worst things we can possibly do, for climbing. It’s just not professional, and it’s not a way of looking at a sport in a professional way. With the kids I’m really on it, with me I’m a little more lazy. They always have to do a body warm up before climbing.

From there we’ll do whatever the body of our lesson is. I mentioned spot races before, we do 4x4s. An example of picking what we are going to do during that time comes from that strength and weakness evaluating. So it’s like “Power is looking great, but last time I did a treadmill session with them, their endurance is subpar right now, so let’s do some endurance stuff”.

Neely Quinn: Are they just training for bouldering, or are they also doing routes?

Alex Stiger: We also do routes, that is new since I started. We always used to just do bouldering, but I’m a sport climber as well, and I feel like any kid who is on a team for eight years should be able to sport climb and boulder. I would feel bad about having them leave the team and not be able to comfortably climb whatever grade they feel comfortable at, and lead and understand how to belay, and had the opportunity to climb outside in both disciplines.

Neely Quinn: Right- you have the luxury of having the two gyms right next to you that are route gyms, because The Spot is only bouldering.

Alex Stiger: Mhm- Boulder is easy. It’s always there. I think for all those gyms where it is bouldering only- it’s more work for sure as a bouldering only gym to incorporate sport climbing at get them prepared, but it’s definitely doable, and it helps their climbing so much. Injury prevention, I think that’s huge as well. We have this huge part of the year where we have to get them as strong as possible, and have as strong fingers as possible, and power- max power. These comps are getting really hard, these kids have to be really strong. Having that switch to sport climbing is so good for their bodies and their mentalities, to work on the mental side of climbing. To work on volume, and really volume base. Not grabbing small holds, not doing any bouldering specific kind of stuff. We just lay off for part of the year and I think that’s really helpful for keeping them psyched and their bodies psyched.

But here we are gearing up for regionals, and we are coming up to the point where we are really trying to work on power endurance and max moves. We’ll meet and we’ll go off and do thirty, forty minutes of whatever that exercise is. We’ll have a small break, and then usually I include projecting time for them.

Neely Quinn: Can you go back- what would be that thirty or forty minutes?

Alex Stiger: Thirty or forty minutes- making up climbs on the Dojo-

Neely Quinn: The Dojo is a wall in The Spot?

Alex Stiger: Yeah, it’s a steeper wall, and usually they spray it with a whole bunch of holds. We’ll go over and make up climbs, and maybe exercise I give them is climb a grade harder but with open feet. Then I’ll assign a grade. I’ll be like “You are four plus, do as many four pluses as you can in ten minutes, and after then you can project”. Pyramids, 4x4s, using a lot of these already known drills. 5 second hovers, where you pull up, reach past a hold, and hod it for five seconds to train lock-offs. All these drills where you work on something really specific, we take away, and add, and have them do based on what we are seeing our team needs at that particular time in that day. They had a really hard workout on Monday. We did fingers on Monday, we are going to do body, and more conditioning, and more projecting and easier climbing and more volume on Tuesday, maybe.

Neely Quinn: So you see them Monday Tuesday?

Alex Stiger: Our comp team I see Monday, Tuesday and Thursday. Our Youth Comp is Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Our two other intro teams are two days a week, spaced out.

Neely Quinn: Why Monday, Tuesday, Thursday?

Alex Stiger: That’s a good question. It was already like that when I started working there. It works out really well for not working on Fridays [laughs].

Neely Quinn: Oh [laughs].

Alex Stiger: That was why it was created like that, but our team has exploded, so reluctantly I added on Fridays. So far I’ve been really happy with it, but that was a hard decision for me and all the other coaches, because before we didn’t work Friday Saturday or Sunday, unless there were comps. This year for our youth comp, there were too many kids in the gym at one time, so we had to spread it out and now we have a Friday team.

Neely Quinn: So they’re climbing Monday, Tuesday ,Thursday, and then they’re ostensibly coming into the gym on the weekend too, right?

Alex Stiger: Mhm.

Neely Quinn: So they don’t get that much rest.

Alex Stiger: And it doesn’t seem to slow them down. And I think the magic number for almost anything is four days a week. If I was tell somebody, if they asked me how much should I be climbing, I’d be like, once a week if you’re a beginner, you’ll make technical progress but you won’t make physical progress. Two days a week, you’ll be making more technical progress, and a little bit of physical progress. Three days a week is where you really start to see physical progress being made. Four, I think, is the magic number. Five is, at select times, really good. Anything over that is just kind of bad.

Neely Quinn: Yeah.

Alex Stiger: On a whole, for any athlete. There’s other things you could be doing. Tendons have to recover, and often we don’t even know that they’re not recovered.

Neely Quinn: How much do you climb?

Alex Stiger: Probably three days a week in the gym, and then once or twice outside.

Neely Quinn: Do you give yourself a day off before the weekend?

Alex Stiger: Yeah definitely. Preferably two. This week I climbed on Sunday, no climbing Monday. Today our comp team and myself go to Alpine Training Center, which is an incredible facility where Connie really creates a sports specific, crossfit-esque high intensity workouts for them. We do that, and it’s hard. We’ll push sleds, and do all sorts of shenanigans. And that’s really physical, but it’s not my fingers. Then I’m going to climb Wednesday, and probably rest Thursday and Friday, because we’re going bouldering this weekend.

Neely Quinn: On Saturday and Sunday? That seems reasonable.

Alex Stiger: That’s a typical week for me. But often it takes a lot of experience to do it, but I can get away with adding in a couple more days if it’s super light, but I’ve found that climbing is climbing. Even if you climb only v3, that counts as a climbing day. You have to count it. That’s what I tell everybody, and you have to be really mindful and educated to get away with that. If I wanted to climb six days a week, there are ways I could, but it takes a lot of effort and planning and discipline.

Neely Quinn: What about fingerboarding and campusing for yourself?

Alex Stiger: Huge. It’s helped me so much. I do that in blocks for myself. Really it’s that strength and weakness base. So many people, they start hang boarding and they notice huge finger strength gains that they don’t realize that their finger strength isn’t a weakness anymore. I really try and look at myself honestly. Can I not do this problem or this route because my fingers aren’t strong enough? Sometimes it’s tricky, because endurance is related to finger strength. If you’re having to grip a hold harder because your fingers aren’t strong enough, you’re going to get pumped faster. Sport climbing, that should be considered. But I’m a small girl, with pretty strong fingers, it’s usually not my biggest weakness, but it definitely helps. What I’ve found helps me the most, is campusing. That explosive, dynamic movement that I naturally is so outside of my comfort zone. I like to put a foot up by my face, rock over it, lock something off, climb super static all the time. Any sort of climbing specific contact, dynamic movement for me is going to help me the most.

Like I said before, your fingers have to be strong enough to be ready for the campus board, so I really had to go and increase my finger strength to improve on the campus board. I think if you keep wanting to make progress in campusing, your hangboarding has to come up as well. And harder boulders, those holds. For me it wasn’t holding onto crimps, but slopers. I had to hangboard more, and not on slopers, but in different crimp positions, to increase my sloper ability.

Neely Quinn: How did you do that?

Alex Stiger: On a lot of slopers, for me it’s rare that I’m actually full finger on, and when I train in a half crimp position, I’ve found it’s training that ability as well. Overall, every finger is stronger, my sloper ability is going to be better. I like to add weight for myself, or take weight off on the hangboard. I usually play with ending with different one arm hangs with assisted stuff. I think I read somewhere that you train so many degrees away from a certain position- I’ve found that I just like hanging in one position, and that is that perfect 90 degree pistol grip position. It’s safe, it doesn’t make my fingers hurt, and I feel stronger after.

Neely Quinn: Wait so, you never train in a- I can’t think of the word I’m looking for.

Alex Stiger: I’ve found that I don’t have to train sloper strength to- I don’t have to specifically train slopers to get stronger at slopers. I can just increase my finger strength and my sloper ability is increased.

Neely Quinn: I found the word I was looking for- open hand. You’re never in an open handed position, you’re always in a half crimp.

Alex Stiger: Very rarely. Yeah I’m always in a half crimp.

Neely Quinn: Okay. Because the half crimp will train everything around it too.

Alex Stiger: And I find it’s the safest, because your load is the most even across all the fingers. I think forcing your pinky to be on naturally helps with shoulder position as well, arms, slight bend in the elbow.

Neely Quinn: I have a bunch of random questions for you, and I think we have ten minutes left, so I’m just going to fire these off. As a shorter climber, and actually can you tell everybody how tall you are?

Alex Stiger: I’m five feet on a good day, I’d like to say that I think I’m five feet tall even.

Neely Quinn: So as a shorter climber, what do you think as helped you the most as far as training goes?

Alex Stiger: Watching smaller kids do moves I can’t do.

[laughter]

I mean, to be a hundred percent, that has helped me so much. I used to go climbing and be like “I can’t do this move because I’m not tall enough, that move is too reachy”. That was always the excuse. And if I didn’t say it because I didn’t want to say it, I didn’t want to be that person, I thought it. And wow, you watch a child who’s a foot smaller than you grab holds that you can’t grab and pull moves that you can’t pull, and not even think of saying “Oh that’s too reachy”, because they just work around it and they figure out how to do it. It made me really realize that it can never be an excuse anymore. When I stopped saying it, I stopped thinking that the move is too reachy and that I can’t do it because I’m too small. I’d like to pride myself that I’m a short climber who doesn’t just climb- or the climbs I do aren’t just for short crimpy people. I really like to get on everything and try it, and often I surprise myself.

Neely Quinn: You surprise me too!

Alex Stiger: Thanks [laughs].

Neely Quinn: When you’re coaching girls, as opposed to boys, are there differences in how you treat them and teach them?

Alex Stiger: Mmm, no. Not at all. Especially coaching amongst those ages, I feel like our team has been very girl dominant. Our strongest climbers have been girls for a really long time. Now we have a strong group of boys coming up, so maybe if you ask me this in a year I’ll have something different to say, but at this point in time, no not at all.

Neely Quinn: So they way you encourage them, they way you discipline them, it’s all the same.

Alex Stiger: Yeah, and I try not to split up the group into boys and girls. I really think it’s very empowering for young females to realize that there is no separation- that they can actually do moves that the boys are doing, or even climbs that some of the boys can’t do. Seeing that empowerment is really good, and I think it’s really good for the boys too, to look at females in that kind of powerful way. Like, oh this girl just crushed my project.

Neely Quinn: Is that a conversation you ever have to have with the boys, like “Don’t treat her like that”?

Alex Stiger: Never. Our mentality is so consistent, and I think that if your mentality is consistent, you don’t ever- kids are so perceptive. If you think it, they’re gonna know it. So when i you were to think that, they’ll pick up on it, but if you don’t think that, it never even becomes an issue. We’ve never had it be an issue either.

Neely Quinn: That’s pretty awesome. I mean, that’s amazing.

Alex Stiger: That’s the amazing thing about climbing- specifically climbing. There’s so many sports, even in chess, oh my god. As a female chess player, it’s really hard sometimes, because guys are so condescending to female chess players. There’s girl only tournaments because of that, how mentally squashing it is sometimes. It is getting so much better, but for me, chess should not be a gender issue at all, but it’s so prevalent. In climbing, it kind of should be a gender thing, there are big differences, but there’s not.

Neely Quinn: But there is, because the boys and girls aren’t actually competing with each other most of the time.

Alex Stiger: In the competitions, but we are climbing on the same climbs outside, and we are training in the same facilities on the same problems.

Neely Quinn: Okay, and lastly, do you want to talk about diet at all with the kids and with yourself? I know that weight has been on your mind for a long time.

Alex Stiger: Kids. I’ll start there. We don’t talk about it. I actually have a very strong policy with all of my coaches that whatever diet thing we’re trying, we cannot bring that to practice. For the kids, it’s eat healthy, eat when you’re hungry, we always have a snack time for all of our younger teams, just to make sure everybody is eating properly.

Neely Quinn: Do you tell them what to bring?

Alex Stiger: Nope. It’s just parents. For kids, I don’t want them thinking about it. I don’t want them dwelling on it. I’ve spent a lot of time dwelling on what I eat, and being too heavy, and all this stuff. It’s so stifling, and it’s progress stifling too. It really held me back, and I don’t think that belongs in any sort of youth program. We live in Boulder, you ask these kids what their favorite food is and most of them say sushi, some say kale and eggs- like oh my god [laughs]. They’re already healthy eaters, I don’t feel like it’s our place to say anything. If we do say anything, we will explain what protein is, what carbs are, and when might be the best time to use it based on really basic information. We don’t go into “Yeah the four hour body says this”. Like, oh my god no- no ketogenic diets! They’re kids- like, no. They’ll eat what they need to eat, their parents will help them with this, and it’s a parent thing, and I really like to stay out of it. I’m very adamant when we go to competitions and we’re in ISO- if I notice there is something going on or something weird or they’re not eating, I’m like “Hey, where’s your snack”. I’m always saying to bring lots of snacks, and eat when you’re hungry.

Neely Quinn: Have you ever had any issues with any of your kids having eating disorders?

Alex Stiger: Umm- no. There was a girl who was a really good track runner, and she was climbing, and it became very apparent that she wasn’t able to eat enough calories to support her weight, and she got really thin. That was a hard one, because I was like, I need to talk to her parents, do I talk to her, we’re noticing she’s getting skinny. I reached out to her parents, and they were like “She’s seeing a nutritionist, we know, they have her on 2000 calorie shakes now”. She was running eight miles and then coming to climbing practice, there was no way she was able to eat enough for that.

Neely Quinn: Yeah.

Alex Stiger: So that’s the only time I’ve ever had to talk about diet.

Neely Quinn: That’s impressive, especially in Boulder. It’s so rampant in high schools.

Alex Stiger: Yeah, and I think again, it’s our mentality. They’re young, they’re athletes, for the most part we just really try to have a very healthy mentality towards diet.

Neely Quinn: And what about you?

Alex Stiger: Off [laughs]. I think I’ve tried it all. You’ve helped me various times, because I was always a hundred and ten pounds, and I wanted to be a hundred and five pounds, or I wanted to be a hundred pounds. I was looking at these climbers who were my size who were climbing these things I wanted to be climbing, and I noticed that they were all lighter than I was. And I wanted that. And wanting it so bad made it impossible. I struggled. I was a binge eater, so I’d do so good, and then all of a sudden I would go bananas. Or I got into bananas, literally frozen bananas, oh my god. I love them, so much. And it wasn’t until I really just let go of how strongly I felt about it that I lost weight.

For me, this is something I did want to mention- journaling. MyFitnessPal was a huge part of my success, just understanding what I was eating. I didn’t actually know. So when I started looking at things, seeing this was how much protein I have, this is how many calories I had today, and what I noticed was I would have days where I’d have a thousand calories, and then I’d have days where I’d have three thousand calories. When I started journaling, I realized I wasn’t being consistent, and when I started being a consistent eater, that really helped me. I cut out sugar. That’s the only- I’m lactose intolerant so I can’t to dairy- and I cut out sugar.

Neely Quinn: What do you mean sugar?

Alex Stiger: Not fruits, I eat fruits. And I love maple syrup and cookies with maple syrup in them nd stuff like that, but all my condiments. My barbecue sauce.

Neely Quinn: Oh you don’t eat ketchup anymore?

Alex Stiger: I have unsweetened ketchup now, and I actually like it now. I mean it was a hard transition [laughs], but I realized because I was tracking what I was eating is that I was having forty grams of sugar a day in condiments alone.

Neely Quinn: Oh my god! That’s a big deal!

Alex Stiger: Because my amount of ketchup wasn’t a serving size.

Neely Quinn: No, it was not.

Alex Stiger: So I developed a love for hot sauce, and I spent more money on unsweetened condiments, and that really made a huge difference for me.

Neely Quinn: As a nutritionist, I can tell you for sure I have never heard anybody say that they can attribute to some of their weight loss to condiments.

Alex Stiger: Yeah, it’s unreal [laughs].

Neely Quinn: How much weight would you say you lost?

Alex Stiger: For a year now, I’ve been between 105 and 100, which was always my goal weight. I don’t feel hungry at all, I don’t feel like I’ve dieted, I just cut out sugar and I just stopped caring. I got exhausted thinking about it.

Neely Quinn: And you’re eating consistently.

Alex Stiger: Yeah, and I adjusted my eating so that I knew I was at least getting 1500 calories a day.

Neely Quinn: Which is counterintuitive to people, because you think you want to eat less and don’t want to eat consistently, and skip meals.

Alex Stiger: I’m going to toss this out here- I say 1500, and for a lot of people that is way too low. But I’m a very small person.

Neely Quinn: Yeah I’m at like 1700 too.

Alex Stiger: And by making sure I get at least that, the binging stopped. And the cravings stopped. People don’t know what they’re eating, is what I find the most. I highly recommend journaling what you eat for at least two weeks, or a month, just to know. Same thing with your training. I kept a training journal for a solid year.

Neely Quinn: Paper and pencil?

Alex Stiger: Paper and pencil. I’d go to the gym and I’d have a journal, and I think you have to buy one you really like because you have to carry it around everywhere, and if you love it you will. If it’s some cheap one you don’t like, you won’t. That helped me realize what I was doing with my training, and it wasn’t consistent.

Neely Quinn: How did you use it, how did you look back on it, what did you look for?

Alex Stiger: That’s the thing- look back at it. So many people will try journaling and then they get bored with it, and they never look at what they wrote. But if I had a success, let’s say I sent a project, I would look and see what difference I made in my training. Why I thought I got stronger, or why I got injured, too. If I got injured, I would look back in my journal and be like “Ohh, yeah I did a hangboard workout and then I rested a day and then I campused”, and my tendons were tweaky. Not injured, but they got tweaky. Like why did I feel bad?

Neely Quinn: Going back to the weight thing, do you feel like that has improved your climbing, or do you think it’s inconsequential?

Alex Stiger: I think people have a range that is good for their climbing, and I think below that is bad, and I think above that is bad. But that range is often way bigger than we think it is. I think for me, if I’m between 105 and 100 pounds, that’s absolutely perfect. If I was to get lighter, I think it would be very counterproductive for me and not be healthy, and if I’m heavier… I can’t reach as many holds that I would like to reach, honestly, or it’s harder.

Neely Quinn: You just can’t lock off as much.

Alex Stiger: I can’t lock off as much, and my fingers- like I can’t grab as small of holds that I sometimes have to for those intermediates and stuff. I think depending on your size, that’s a factor too. It’s like, is that a problem for you.

Neely Quinn: That’s true, because if you’re really tall and heavier, you can still reach.

Alex Stiger: If you can reach the better hold, if you’re not having to grab some razorblade tendon popper, then you can be whatever you want. Be heavier, it’s fine, don’t dwell on it. I mean, we’ve all been that person where somebody walks up, and they’re kind of heavy, and they crush your project, and you’re like “Maybe it doesn’t matter as much as we thought it did?”. I think in climbing we all just have to remember that we like to look at a body type and be like “Oh, they’re able to do that because they have this particular body type”.  There’s always people to prove you wrong, and it’s just that we don’t often have access to them as much, but they’re there. So it’s best not to focus on that, just focus on climbing and your climbing, and having fun and enjoying it. Kids, they have to be having fun. They have to want to be climbing, and if they don’t, they need a break. We need a break. It doesn’t matter as much as we think it does.

Neely Quinn: Will you give them a day off when they’re just not psyched?

Alex Stiger: Yeah, I’ve talked to so many parents. Like “Hey, my kid didn’t really want to come to practice, can we take a break?”. I’m like, “Absolutely, take a break”. Or if their schoolwork load is increasing, don’t come to practice, or just got up to the conference room and study, don’t climb. I’ve requested that kids not come to practice because they were really fatigued and they needed a break. Like hey- we will hold your payment, but we would prefer if your kid didn’t come to class for two weeks, they need a break. I think as coach, and in a business, it’s hard to do that sometimes, but it’s really necessary.

Neely Quinn: Okay, and what’s coming up for you guys for the team, and for you? What’s your imminent goals?

Alex Stiger: Figuring out how to handle so many kids in a smaller facility- we’re dealing with it. Regionals, it’s coming up. It’s December 10th and 11th- thankfully it’s in Colorado Springs- and Divisionals, is here too so that’s kind of cool. So just starting to hone in, you know? Get that icing on the cake kind of stuff. The power endurance, the last minute assessments, a lot of mental training is coming up for us too, where we really simulate what’s going on and psychological preparation. That’s what’s going on for the team. For myself, I’m kind of in a lull. I went to The Red for two weeks, and now I’m just enjoying bouldering, and eating a lot. Just doing the winter resting, more than normal. If I don’t climb for three days, I don’t care right now. It’s that time of year.

Neely Quinn: Cool. Well thanks for sharing your wisdom.

Alex Stiger: Thank you! It’s been great, and I was super nervous to talk, but it’s good [laughs].

Neely Quinn: You did great.

Alex Stiger: Thanks.

Neely Quinn: Yeah, good luck at Regionals.

Alex Stiger: Thank you, it’s for fun. We go and we have a great time, whether they make it to Divisionals or not, it’s really doesn’t matter.

Neely Quinn: You don’t punish them if they don’t make it?

Alex Stiger: So many burpees [laughs]. I’m just kidding. Definitely not.

Neely Quinn: Alright, cool, thanks Alex!

Alex Stiger: Thank you!

Alright, I hope you enjoyed that interview with Alex Stiger. If you want to train like Stiger and be strong yourself and use the key of consistency that she talked about, we have training programs for you. That’s our whole goal here, is to give you consistent, easy to follow training programs. If you’re in bouldering mode, like a lot of people are, you can do our bouldering strength and power program, which is about fifteen dollars a month, and for those fifteen dollars, you get three unique workouts every week  You go through six week cycles of power, power endurance, finger strength, and projecting modes. It basically gives you everything that you need in order to be a stronger boulderer, and climber in general. You can check that out at trainingbeta.com and at the top you’ll see training programs, and you’ll see it in there.

So other than that, I am working on a finger training program. I’m not working on it- I’m just getting it out to you guys. Kris Peters wrote it, and I’m working with Dallas Milburn- thank you Dallas very much. He’s a designer, and he’s going to make it all pretty and easy to use for you guys. We are going to have three programs- one for beginner climbers, one for intermediate climbers, and one for advanced climbers. I’ll get those out to you as soon as possible, so you can start training your fingers over the winter. But also know that our bouldering program and our route program, they both have finger training in them too.

So anyways, that’s it, and I will talk to you guys next week. Thank you so much for listening all the way to the end, I love your support, and yeah. I’ll talk to you later!

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